Clementine: A Song for the End of the World
by John T. Biggs
|What Kills You Makes You Stronger
Clementine is a teenage girl from rural Oklahoma who hears voices. At first, it’s nothing special. Lost dogs and ice cream socials—things on local radio, complete with commercials. But when when she slips into a trance and foretells the beginning of World War III mere hours before the bombs start falling, the locals realize just how special Clem may be.
Carl is a government scientist with a secret laboratory. He’s trying to figure out how to save the human race once the war ends and the radiation clears, and Clem’s special gift may be exactly what he needs. First, though, he’ll have to do a few experiments. Nothing painful, he tells her—well, not too painful, anyway.
With no interest in becoming Carl’s experimental lab rat, Clem runs, leading the scientist and his cronies on a wild chase through the ruins of the American heartland. She’s almost free when one of her pursuers decides to shoot her rather than allow her to escape. Bullets tear through her chest—a fatal wound—and it looks like things are finished for young Clem, to say nothing of Carl’s grand plans to save the world and gain fame and fortune… until Clem wakes up in Carl’s secret lab a thousand years later.
Well, it’s not Clementine, exactly, but she has Clem’s memories and some of her voices. Carl is there, too. In fact, now there are two of him. (238 pages, Fleet Press, 2018)
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E-Book ISBN: 978-1-63373-311-4
|I fell in love with Oklahoma when I came here looking for a job. It was nothing like the movies had led me to expect. The dust bowl was over (I hadn’t heard). Cowboy hats were as popular as ever. Horses too, but people mostly rode around in cars or pickup trucks when they had serious traveling to do. Oklahoma had a large Lebanese population, and a pretty big group of Asians, mostly emigrated from Vietnam. There were Euro-Americans, and African Americans, and Native Americans and some special racial combinations I’d never heard of like Cherokee Freedmen and Black Seminoles. I knew I’d have to write about it sooner or later.
I started off with a bad novel–about Oklahoma of course. You won’t find it on Amazon because it never was published. An agent / editor read the first fifty pages and told me I should sharpen my skills with short fiction. That was pretty good advice.
One of my stories, “Boy Witch” won the 80th annual Writer’s Digest Competition. Another won third prize in the 2011 Lorian Hemingway short story contest, and another took top honors in the 2012 Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc. annual conference. I had thirty five short stories published in one form or another (many in books for sale on Amazon) before I finally got a publisher interested in my first good novel, OWL DREAMS. Pen-L Publishing released that book on November 15, 2013.
Everything I write is so full of Oklahoma that once you read it, you’ll never get the red dirt stains washed out of your mind. The tribes play a significant role. No authentic discussion of the state is possible without them. Traditional Native American legends are reworked and set in the modern era, the way oral historians always intended. A few outrageous lies are worked into the plots because I can’t help myself.
Everyone I ever knew is in my stories and in OWL DREAMS, along with a few characters I’ve only imagined. They are mixed together in a large pot–panhandle included–cooked over a low heat and served up family style. Come and get it while it’s hot.